What are some good GBA soundtracks?

I want to put some .gsf files on my phone to listen to, because apparently I want (?) to listen to the sound of music filtered through digital styrofoam.

Here’s the most up to date gsf repository I can find: http://gsf.joshw.info/

Technical Digression

Here are a couple sites that explain the GBA’s meager sound hardware on a technical level:
http://belogic.com/gba/
http://problemkaputt.de/gbatek.htm#gbasoundcontroller

The basic idea is that it has all of the GB’s sound stuff (2 squares, white noise, and a wavetable), plus 2 8-bit PCM channels. The sample rates for the PCM channels are individually configurable. The CPU is responsible for actually shoving the data into the PCM channels’ queues at a regular interval (either with the help of interrupts or the DMA unit). To get more than two channels of PCM audio, games have to resort to software mixing (this is what people mean when they say “the GBA has no sound chip”). This eats up valuable CPU time. Every game has to find a balance between audio fidelity and being able to do literally anything else.

One advantage the GBA has over the SNES sound-wise is that it doesn’t need to shove all its audio samples into a tiny 64kB box to be readily used — unfortunately, this is also how/why Nintendo was able to add voices to their Mario and Zelda games.

The vast, vast majority [citation needed] of GBA games use the music engine provided with the GBA devkit. Internally, I believe it’s just called “m4a” (either “music of [gameboy] advance” or “music for [project] atlantis”?). In some circles it’s also called the Sappy engine, because the rohm acker who reverse engineered it back in the day first discovered it in Pokemon Sapphire. That fellow also made a tool that made it really easy to rip soundtracks that used that engine. Thus, it’s less likely for a game that does not use that engine to have a gsf rip out there.

anyhow, let’s continue with our regularly scheduled post

Asterix & Obelix is a rare game that does not do any software mixing. The PCM is just used for percussion, and the rest of the audio is generated by the legacy GB hardware. IIRC it’s also the last soundtrack the Alberto Gonzales composed using his ZX Spectrum.

F-Zero Climax really tryin’ it’s best to mimic that big F-Zero X energy:

Shin’en’s games have a nice, crisp, Amiga-like sound. (I think they used a custom sound engine.) Here’s something from Iridion 2:

Obligatory Harmony of Dissonance plug:

feed me your recommendations

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CIMA: The Enemy

Ultimate Card Games

Knights of Lodis

all of the Boktai games

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Harmony of Dissonance and nothing else.

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Wario Land 4

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yo where all the mother 3 at

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am i the only one who actually likes a lot of the music in metroid fusion?

this one in particular nails this tiptoe balance of collected purposefulness with a faint, simmering tension which summarises the whole game to me

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Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories have some good arrangements of their console game tunes.

Mother 3’s whole soundtrack slaps.

Virt’s soundtrack for Scurge: Hive is pretty great.

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Yeah Mother 3’s soundtrack owns. Rhythm Tengoku’s music is good but I don’t know how much it holds up just listening to it on its own without the gameplay. Listen for but a moment:

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astro boy!

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why am I chilling the hell out to these tunes now but when I play actual games in an emulator I’m mostly just putting up with them (and the intended-for-non-backlit-screens bright as hell graphics)

The GBA sound aesthetic has graduated from “the SNES’s scratchy, insecure younger brother” to “chill lo-fi tunes to study and relax to”

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Advance Wars

Maximum Velocity has a few real good tracks as well:

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dang this Sigma Star Saga game has some bangers as well:

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Here’s an MP3 rip of the Ultimate Card Games soundtrack, because it’s really good and doesn’t have a GSF rip.

Here’s two more tracks


My other favorite (next to Dolphin Play) is Winter Morning, but it’s not on YouTube. I should upload it.

Also, pro-tip: joshw.info has a ton of different video game music format sets, ranging from Saturn to Dreamcast to GameCube. You just have to change the subdomain to the format you want (ssf, for example). I’ve been grabbing sets from there for over a decade now, I think. Unfortunately, I believe he (or whoever he accepts these from) arbitrarily removes credits from the sets, so those Persona sets I tagged don’t have my translation notes or credits, which is kind of a shitty thing to do.

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any chance of a reupload? that link looks like it was taken down

cuz this music frcikin rules

It works for me, but I replaced the URL with the URL it gives me when I hit Share, so try again, it should work.

There’s a DS version of this game with a slightly updated soundtrack, but it doesn’t sound as good as the GBA version. Go figure.

Whoa this thread reminded me that I have a soundtrack CD of Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance… somewhere :thinking:

i also love maximum velocity. it’s version of fire field feels very ignored:


i also like the music for tenth zone east and ancient mesa and the grand prix results and etc etc

ninja five-o:

urban yeti has this awful, awful mess of a song that i love:

perused the mario vs donkey kong soundtrack on whim and found this thing:

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Neil Voss, composer of Tetrisphere, presents Racing Gears Advance:

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what do you call this kind of music?

is this what the “chemical brothers” are about?

is this a “block rocking” beat?